‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards

2006, 414 p.

I’ve seen this book in bookshops for several years now, but I must admit that I wasn’t particularly tempted to read it.  Perhaps it was the pink back cover, the book-group questions at the back, or perhaps it was the shelf-company it kept… oh, alright, call me a literary snob.  I do read and like Anne Tyler and Sue Miller who write American family-based fiction similar to this one, but you’re probably better off classing this with Jodi Picoult.  It was selected for my face-to-face bookgroup (so its marketing strategy of the bookgroup questions at the back was probably spot-on), and I probably wouldn’t have read it left to my own devices, but I have to admit to being thoroughly drawn in right from the opening pages.

It probably speaks volumes about the plot-driven nature of this book to say that it’s impossible to review it without spoilers.  So I won’t, other than to say that structurally, it makes decade-wide leaps as it traces through a decision made in the in 1960s as it unravels through the lives of two different families.  It is a fairly long book at over 400 pages, and particularly near the end I felt it dragged a bit with just a few too many plot-lines introduced and a heavy reliance on reminiscence to develop her characters.  I realized in reading this book how rarely I read a book that relies so heavily on plot (I’m not, for example, much into crime books or murder-mysteries) and I found myself raising questions like “But what about…?” and “I don’t believe that….”

Still, I must admit rather grudgingly that it generated a good book-group discussion (as no doubt it was intended to), and whatever frustrations I may have felt about length or plausibility did not stop me from reading it to the very end.  But I still kept wondering, rather guiltily, (and as I often had cause to say to my children when I perceived that they were wasting their time) “Is this the best use of my time?”  Probably not, but I enjoyed it anyway.

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2 responses to “‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I read it, mainly to see how she extricated herself from her own plot, but it wasn’t satisfying reading, and I had a lot of ‘but what about…?’ moments too.
    I was over your way yesterday en route to have dinner with Offspring in Mernda, it reminded me that we should have lunch in the June holidays?

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